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By David Thompson

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            Henry Jaglom & The Rainbow Theater Company, in association with Edgemar Center for the Arts, presents Tanna Frederick and Robert Standley in “The Rainmaker,” a play by N. Richard Nash. The cast also includes Benjamin Chamberlain, David Garver, Ralph Guzzo, Steve Howard and Scott Roberts. The show is directed by Jack Heller and produced by Alexandra Guarnieri.

            “The Rainmaker” focuses largely on the fate of Lizzie, who lives on a family farm with her brothers and father in the Dust Bowl during the Depression. She capably takes care of the men in her house, but there’s an emptiness in her life. She has no one of her own, and she dreams of a husband and children. A visit to her cousins, actually a failing attempt to find a prospective mate, has left her more frustrated than ever. The recurrent reminders that she is considered  “plain” by her family and herself do not relieve her fears of winding up as the “maiden aunt.”

            The Curry farm, like all those around them, is impacted by a withering and  persistent drought. Suddenly, a charismatic stranger named Starbuck appears, claiming that he can make the clouds come and the rains fall.

            “The Rainmaker” is about love, desire and magic, and expresses these themes so resonantly that the play has been translated into forty languages since it premiered on Broadway in 1954. It was also made into a hugely successful film in 1956 by director Joseph Anthony and famously starred Katharine Hepburm as Lizzie and Burt Lancaster as Starbuck.

            Playwright N. Richard Nash (1913-2000) was famous for his Broadway shows (“Wildcat,” “110 in the Shade,” “The Happy Time”) but also wrote for TV (two seasons  as writer-developer of “Here Come The Brides”) and for the big screen (“Dragonfly,” “Porgy and Bess,” “Nora Prentiss”).

            Tanna Frederick stars as Lizzie. She had earlier starred in Los Angeles in Nash’s play, “Echoes.”  Her previous shows at The Edgemar Center included, most recently, Claire Chafee’s “Why We Have a Body” (which she also directed). Prior to that, she had long runs as the title dog in A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia,”and in two plays written by Henry Jaglom, “Just 45 Minutes From Broadway,” and “Always…But Not Forever.” Ms. Frederick  has starred in several films directed by Jaglom including, most recently,  “Just 45 Minutes From Broadway,” “Queen of the Lot,” “Hollywood Dreams,” and “Irene in Time.” A fifth film collaboration currently in the editing stage, “The M Word,” will be released in 2013.

            Robert Standley portrays Starbuck. He starred in the national tours of “The Rainmaker,” “Cotton Patch Gospel,” and his one-man show “According to Coyote.” He recently appeared in “Post Office” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. He won an Ovation Award for his performance in “Barbarians” and Outer Critics Circle Awards for “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Picnic.” He recurred in the TV series “Invasion,” “Melrose Place,” “All My Children” and “Breaking Through.” He appeared on film in “Turn of Faith,” “Ali,” “The gatherers,” “Deep Descent” and won a Best Actor award at Angel Citi Film Festival for his role in “Time Loves A Hero.”

            Jack Heller directs “The Rainmaker.” He has directed over 60 productions in the U.S. and Canada, and also television (“Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”). Acclaimed as an actor, he appeared on Broadway in “Luv,” locally most recently in SST Productions’  “Tennessee in the Summer.” Previously, he was featured in “Queen of the Lot” and in both the stage and screen versions of “Just 45 Minutes From Broadway.”

            Stage manager: Thomas Zoeschg. Set design: Chris Stone. Hair and make-up design: Stefani Davis.

Published on Nov 15, 2012

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